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Frequently Asked Questions

Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA
Apr 13, 2021

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, administers and enforces the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for all private, state and local government employees, and some federal employees. Most Federal and certain congressional employees are also covered by the law and are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or the Congress.

FMLA became effective on August 5, 1993, for most employers. If a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was in effect on that date, FMLA became effective on the expiration date of the CBA or February 5, 1994, whichever was earlier. FMLA entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. The employer may elect to use the calendar year, a fixed 12-month leave or fiscal year, or a 12-month period prior to or after the commencement of leave as the 12-month period.

The law contains provisions on employer coverage; employee eligibility for the law's benefits; entitlement to leave, maintenance of health benefits during leave, and job restoration after leave; notice and certification of the need for FMLA leave; and, protection for employees who request or take FMLA leave. The law also requires employers to keep certain records.


FMLA applies to all:

public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year and who are engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce — including joint employers and successors of covered employers.


To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
  • work for a covered employer;
  • have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
  • have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
  • work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

* See special rules for returning reservists under USERRA.


A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
  • for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
    to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Spouses employed by the same employer are jointly entitled to a combined total of 12 work-weeks of family leave for the birth and care of the newborn child, for placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and to care for a parent who has a serious health condition. Leave for birth and care, or placement for adoption or foster care must conclude within 12 months of the birth or placement.

Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave intermittently — which means taking leave in blocks of time, or by reducing their normal weekly or daily work schedule.

If FMLA leave is for birth and care or placement for adoption or foster care, use of intermittent leave is subject to the employer's approval.
FMLA leave may be taken intermittently whenever medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member, or because the employee is seriously ill and unable to work. 
Also, subject to certain conditions, employees or employers may choose to use accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) to cover some or all of the FMLA leave.
The employer is responsible for designating if an employee's use of paid leave counts as FMLA leave, based on information from the employee.
"Serious health condition" means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:
any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical-care facility, and any period of incapacity or subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care; or 
Continuing treatment by a health care provider which includes any period of incapacity (i.e., inability to work, attend school or perform other regular daily activities) due to:
 (1) A health condition (including treatment therefor, or recovery therefrom) lasting more than three consecutive days, and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition, that also includes: 
treatment two or more times by or under the supervision of a health care provider; or 
one treatment by a health care provider with a continuing regimen of treatment; or 
 (2) Pregnancy or prenatal care. A visit to the health care provider is not necessary for each absence; or 
 (3) A chronic serious health condition which continues over an extended period of time, requires periodic visits to a health care provider, and may involve occasional episodes of incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes). A visit to a health care provider is not necessary for each absence; or
 (4) A permanent or long-term condition for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer's, a severe stroke, terminal cancer). Only supervision by a health care provider is required, rather than active treatment; or
 (5) Any absences to receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery or for a condition which would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three days if not treated (e.g., chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer).
"Health care provider" means:

doctors of medicine or osteopathy authorized to practice medicine or surgery by the state in which the doctors practice; or 

podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists and chiropractors (limited to manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by X-ray to exist) authorized to practice, and performing within the scope of their practice, under state law; or 

nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives and clinical social workers authorized to practice, and performing within the scope of their practice, as defined under state law; or 

Christian Science practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts; or 

Any health care provider recognized by the employer or the employer's group health plan benefits manager. 

A covered employer is required to maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave whenever such insurance was provided before the leave was taken and on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. If applicable, arrangements will need to be made for employees to pay their share of health insurance premiums while on leave. 
In some instances, the employer may recover premiums it paid to maintain health coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from FMLA leave. 
Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to the employee's original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. 
In addition, an employee's use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned or was entitled to before using FMLA leave, nor be counted against the employee under a "no fault" attendance policy.

Under specified and limited circumstances where restoration to employment will cause substantial and grievous economic injury to its operations, an employer may refuse to reinstate certain highly-paid "key" employees after using FMLA leave during which health coverage was maintained. In order to do so, the employer must:

notify the employee of his/her status as a "key" employee in response to the employee's notice of intent to take FMLA leave;

notify the employee as soon as the employer decides it will deny job restoration, and explain the reasons for this decision;

offer the employee a reasonable opportunity to return to work from FMLA leave after giving this notice; and 

make a final determination as to whether reinstatement will be denied at the end of the leave period if the employee then requests restoration.

A "key" employee is a salaried "eligible" employee who is among the highest paid ten percent of employees within 75 miles of the work site.
Employees seeking to use FMLA leave are required to provide 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable and such notice is practicable.
Employers may also require employees to provide:
medical certification supporting the need for leave due to a serious health condition affecting the employee or an immediate family member;
second or third medical opinions (at the employer's expense) and periodic recertification; and 
periodic reports during FMLA leave regarding the employee's status and intent to return to work.
When intermittent leave is needed to care for an immediate family member or the employee's own illness, and is for planned medical treatment, the employee must try to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer's operation.
Covered employers must post a notice approved by the Secretary of Labor explaining rights and responsibilities under FMLA. An employer that willfully violates this posting requirement may be subject to a fine of up to $100 for each separate offense.

Also, covered employers must inform employees of their rights and responsibilities under FMLA, including giving specific written information on what is required of the employee and what might happen in certain circumstances, such as if the employee fails to return to work after FMLA leave.


It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided by FMLA. It is also unlawful for an employer to discharge or discriminate against any individual for opposing any practice, or because of involvement in any proceeding, related to FMLA.
The Wage and Hour Division investigates complaints. If violations cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the U.S. Department of Labor may bring action in court to compel compliance. Individuals may also bring a private civil action against an employer for violations.
Special rules apply to employees of local education agencies. Generally, these rules provide for FMLA leave to be taken in blocks of time when intermittent leave is needed or the leave is required near the end of a school term.
Salaried executive, administrative, and professional employees of covered employers who meet the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) criteria for exemption from minimum wage and overtime under Regulations, 29 CFR Part 541, do not lose their FLSA-exempt status by using any unpaid FMLA leave. This special exception to the "salary basis" requirements for FLSA's exemption extends only to "eligible" employees' use of leave required by FMLA.
The FMLA does not affect any other federal or state law which prohibits discrimination, nor supersede any state or local law which provides greater family or medical leave protection. Nor does it affect an employer's obligation to provide greater leave rights under a collective bargaining agreement or employment benefit plan. The FMLA also encourages employers to provide more generous leave rights.

The final rule implementing FMLA is contained in the January 6, 1995, Federal Register. For more information, please contact the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division, listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of Labor.


Why Do I Need A Union?
Apr 13, 2021

  The one question that is asked more frequently than any other question is Why do we need a union?

  • Having a Union in your place of employment gives you an opportunity to be heard in the work place. Whether it is one of your stewards, a unit chair, a member of the safety committee, or even the President of our local. You have a voice to speak up for you. 
  • Your Union has a bargaining committee that works very hard (sometimes day and night 24/7) to get you the best contract they can so you know exactly what is expected of you when you are doing your job. This protects your rights and your responsibilities on and off the  job. 
  • The contract that is presented to you, represents and brings with it: wages, benefits, and contract language that is put in place to help protect your rights everyday while you are at your job. 
  • Along with this contract comes a greater degree of job security that you might not have otherwise

What Is VEBA?
Apr 29, 2021

“VEBA” stands for Voluntary Employee Benefit Association”. It’s a trust that has been established for our Local as a retirement insurance benefit fund.  All full-time and part-time benefit eligible members make mandatory contributions effective on the ninety-first (91st) day of employment. Currently, each member contributes 41¢ per hour of straight time worked. Your pay stub will reflect VEBA payments each pay.

Benefits from the fund begin upon eligibility for Medicare (currently age 65) and are provided for UAW Local 4911 members only. No spouses or other dependents are eligible. Human Resources will explain VEBA benefits when you retire.

The establishment of the VEBA trust was voted upon by the membership with the first contract negotiated between Sparrow Hospital and UAW Local 4911 in 2001.

UAW members who have 10 years of service may retire at age 55 and draw their retirement benefits and pay for their own medical insurance until they are eligible for VEBA at age 65. Keep in mind that you must retire in order to collect the VEBA at age 65.  If you quit or are discharged from employment you become ineligible to collect VEBA.

The VEBA trust pays for a supplemental insurance plan secondary to Medicare. Retirees pay 20% of the monthly premium cost which is deducted out of their monthly pension check. Sparrow Human Resource Department monitors VEBA recipients.

What Are Union Dues/Initiation Fees?
Apr 13, 2021

What is The Weingarten Rule?
Apr 13, 2021


An Employee's Right to Representation


An employee may be represented by the union at an investigatory interview with his or her supervisor when the employee reasonably believes that the interview may lead to a disciplinary action.

U.S. Supreme Court ruling:

The rights of employees to the presence of union representatives during investigatory interviews was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 in NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. Since that case involved a clerk being investigated by the Weingarten Company, these rights have become known as Weingarten Rights.

What is an investigatory interview?

Employees have Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct. If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has a right to request union representation. Investigatory interviews usually relate to subjects such as:

poor attitude
violation of safety rules

work performance
damage to state property
falsification of records


violation of work procedures


Weingarten rules:

Under the Supreme Court's Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:


The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.


After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The employer must:

a.       Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or

b.       Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or

c.       Give the employee a choice of: (1) having the interview without representation or (2) ending the interview.


If the supervisor denies the request for union representation and continues to ask questions, he or she commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has the right to refuse to answer. The supervisor cannot discipline the employee for such a refusal.

Rights of Stewards

Supervisors often assert that the only role of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion, i.e., to be a silent witness. The Supreme Court, however, clearly acknowledged a steward's right to assist and counsel workers during the interview. Decided cases establish the following procedures:

1.       When the steward arrives, the supervisor must inform the steward of the subject matter of the interview; i.e., the type of conduct for which discipline is being considered (theft, lateness, drugs, etc.).

2.       The steward must be allowed to take the worker aside for a private pre-interview conference before questioning begins.

3.       The steward must be allowed to speak during the interview. The steward, however, does not have the right to bargain over the purpose of the interview.

4.       The steward can request that the supervisor clarify a question so the worker can understand what is being asked.

5.       After a question is asked, the steward can give advice on how to answer.

6.       When the questioning ends, the steward can provide information to the supervisor.

It must be emphasized that if the Weingarten rights are complied with, stewards have no right to tell workers not to answer questions or to give false answers.

Page Last Updated: Apr 13, 2021 (10:35:00)
UAW Local 4911
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